Introduction: Irene is the treasurer and active member of SWE Rice Chapter. Over the past summer, she was an intern at OpenStax, an open-source free textbook company located in Houston.
My name is Irene Zhang and I am a junior Electrical and Computer Engineering student at Rice University. Over the past summer, I worked as a Software Test Automation Intern at OpenStax. OpenStax is a company in Houston that produces open-source free textbooks for high school and college students. My daily tasksas a QA intern included testing OpenStax Tutor website, writing manual test cases and converting test cases
to automated ones using Selenium web driver. The junction of hardware and software is what interests me most and working as a software intern allowed me to explore the software side of things like the Agile development framework, which are a great complement to the system and hardware courses I was taking in college. During my internship, I learned how to use the command line and write efficient code. I also
expanded my potential by building a flashcard web app that extracts terms and definitions from OpenStax textbooks for my intern group project.
I particularly enjoyed working on the intern group project because I got to challenge myself and build new things every day. I was the only female on my intern software dev sub-team, and initially I had much less knowledge on app development than my male counterparts. That put quite a lot of pressure on me to keep up with the pace of the whole team. However, I wanted to explore my full potential and contribute as much
as I could, so I spent every evening after work taking online courses to learn front-end languages like HTML, CSS and Angular JS. Eventually, I took charge of the flashcard presentation page and wrote the animation for the app which was a task that my other team members had difficulty with. With all our hard work, our project eventually won the intern project contest at OpenStax.
As a woman engineer, I believe having faith in ourselves is the key to success. Yes, STEM is well known as a male-dominated field and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, but we should never be daunted by this situation or the “male power” in our careers. Apart from advocating for women’s rights, we can start by perfecting our own technical skills and actively asserting leadership in the workplace. Seeking constant personal development is a great way to build our confidence and amplify our voices in the workplace.